May 27, 2017, Arkaquah Trail, Brasstown Bald, Towns & Union Counties

Posted under: North Georgia .

Vasey’s Trillium, Trillium vaseyi

Meet: 10:00am in the parking lot on top of Brasstown Bald. (Note: There is a per-person parking fee to park on Brasstown Bald.) 

Hound’s Tongue, Cynoglossum, virginianum

Description: The Arkaquah Trail starts below the summit of the highest peak in Georgia. We will hike through a range of plant communities down to a rock outcrop that should have flowering rock harlequin (Capnoides sempervirens). Along the way, we should see plenty of Vasey’s trillium (Trillium vaseyi), and a few pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), as well as mountain (Acer spicatum) and striped (Acer pensylvanicum) maple. In previous years, we’ve had as many as 6 different species of trilliums on this trail.  We should also see Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) and, perhaps, minnie-bush (Menziesia pilosa).  After lunch, we will walk back to the parking lot. If there is still interest, we will then drive down to Track Rock Gap to explore the bottom end of the Arkaquah Trail.  The ultramafic soils at the base of Brasstown Bald should yield the tall flowering stalks of American columbo (Frasera caroliniensis), as well as hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum virginianum). 

Directions: Take US 19 south from Blairsville for 8 miles, then turn left onto GA 180 for another 8 miles. At the sign for Brasstown Bald, turn left onto GA 180 Spur and follow it up to the parking area. From the south, take GA 60/US 19 north from Dahlonega.  Eventually US19 veers to the right at Stonepile Gap, stay on US 19 headed north.  You’ll turn left at Turner’s Corner as you cross the Chestatee River, and eventually cross Neel’s Gap.  After passing Vogel State Park, start looking for GA 180 to the right.  The road to Brasstown Bald, GA 180 Spur, will be 8 miles on the left.

Striped Maple, Acer spicatum

Parking: Brasstown Bald is a National Forest Recreation Area, so a parking fee is required. Please pay at the entrance booth. Parking is free at Track Rock Gap, but rather limited.

Facilities: Only at the Brasstown Bald parking lot.  After that, it’s trees and boulders.

Walking:   The Arkaquah Trail is strenuous. The first part of this hike is mostly downhill, but will be a gradual uphill walk back to the parking lot. Total distanc

e will be about 4 miles.  Because we are doing an out-and-back walk this year, we will miss the most strenuous portions of the trail, but persons with physical limitations should still be aware of the rugged nature of this area. 

Lunch:  Bring to eat at a rock outcrop along the trail.

Leader:  Hal Massie, 478-957-6095 (cells will be on the morning of the hike, reception may be poor); Rich Reaves, 770-827-5186